So, where does all the money go?

by Beacon Staff • April 2, 2008

The administration's failure to justify tuition hikes with real improvements

Our View:

The school must strive for a more respectable understanding of fiscal responsibility,Emerson students are sharp and intelligent, so one is forced to wonder if the administration actually expects us to fall for a classic swindle without protest.

Students returning to school in fall 2008 will find themselves facing a daunting 5.5 percent tuition hike-with no specific campus or curriculum improvements to explain the raise.

The fact that Emersonians will have to pay over $1,000 more for the upcoming year is hardly shocking. Like many institutions of higher learning across the country, our tuition trends only upwards.

Just because the regular jack-ups have become commonplace, however, does not mean that they have become acceptable. Any demands for additional cash from students should be met with scrutiny and fully justified. Otherwise, where will it end?

Emerson's tuition has been rocketing skyward for a while. This year's spike is, thankfully, less than the 6.4 percent increase of '07, but it's still significantly greater than prior years. During the decade's opening years, the tuition boost averaged less than 4 percent.

The endless and increasingly burdensome price hikes would be difficult to explain even if Emerson was improving in obvious and demonstrable ways. But that is hardly the case.

Can anyone say with a straight face that the Health and Wellness Center-not exactly held in the highest esteem by students to begin with-is going to get 5.5 percent better this year? What abut our bare-bones library? Will the Dining Hall be 5.5 percent less likely to burst at the seams around dinner time, or Armark food 5.5 percent more palatable? Surely, we aren't supposed to believe that Emerson classes will be 5.5 percent more challenging or textbooks 5.5 percent less expensive.

Frankly, the situation is moving in precisely the opposite direction. Students are being pushed into hotels, facilities are more crowded, classes aren't shrinking and books have never been more costly.

Via e-mail, Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen told The Beacon that there are no special projects or new initiatives to justify the tuition jump. All that additional revenue is just to maintain the status quo.

Then again, maybe Lions should be careful what they wish for.

Given the four new giant televisions in Piano Row's lobby-a shamefully useless expenditure-and the incredible sunken costs tied to the Emerson Cafe's food cart, it seems like the last thing the school needs is another "improvement," care of the administration.

If, of course, the higher-ups are in a mood of unrestrained giving, an economics department might just be in order. Someone needs to tell them that demanding more buck for less bang just doesn't add up.